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Predicted media and PR trends for 2018

Studies consistently show that we are exposed to around 10,000 marketing messages a day! Of course, this makes it harder than ever for brands to land their messages.

In the ideas economy, frequency alone is not enough. Companies need to be innovative, bold and not afraid to embrace both new techniques and channels that best articulate their brands. With this in mind, here are my predicted media and PR trends for 2018:

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#1 PR like a pro

The drum beat of professionalism in public relations has been getting louder over the past decade and has accelerated since the Bell Pottinger scandal last year.

Reputation has a direct impact on the well-being of every company and brand. That is why the professionalism of public relations practitioners is so important. My view is that 2018 will prove to be a breakthrough year for the professionalism of public relations.

#2 Online for success

There are currently 4.3 billion people of the world’s 7.6 billion population connected to the internet. By 2030, it is predicted that everyone on the planet will be connected.

98% of digital consumers are social media users and over half of digital consumers are following brands. What’s more, social networks are the top product research channel among 16-24s. Therefore, organisations need to communicate in the spaces where their audiences do – it’s an obvious point but one that is often forgotten.

#3 Word-of-mouth

Influencers overtook celebrities as the most popular choice for endorsements in 2017, according to new research by Celebrity Intelligence and it’s a trend that looks to continue throughout 2018.

Companies are embracing this trend and those brave enough to stop talking about themselves and let others do the talking on their behalf are reaping the benefits!

#4 Storytelling

Social media is maturing and becoming increasingly visual and in the moment. Short video messaging – such as Instagram stories – is the current vogue. Virtually all social networkers have watched a video clip online in the last month and a great deal of this is happening on social. 56% of Facebookers have watched one on their network, as have about 4 in 10 Snapchatters and Instagrammers.

Brands must embrace the power of videos and incorporate them into PR and marketing plans. Perhaps because it’s easier to see, feel and make sense of the information being shared – but video is key to an effective PR campaign.

Brands are increasingly using narratives in new ways to capture attention and build a loyal following – a trend that will continue to evolve this year.

#5 Informed by insights

The application of data in public relations isn’t a new trend – but what is new is the scale of data and the growing availability of third party tools that enable us to make sense of it.

Human attention spans are at an all-time low dropping from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, so it’s important to communicate the right message, at the right time, in the right spaces. You can’t rely on stereotypes – proof and insight is key to commercial effectiveness.

Data offers opportunities for brands to have deeper conversations with its audience (providing that it isn’t used opportunistically) – but PR practitioners need to be aware of the origin of data and the ethical implications of using it to inform insights.

#6 KPIs

With this increasing availability of data – as touched on above – measurement should no longer be an issue within public relations. But outdated practices mean that practitioners remain wedded to old forms of measurements.

I think 2018 could be a tipping point as we’re able to provide insight like never before – showing organisations we serve that measurement is aligned to their business objectives.

#7 Let’s face facts

Facts can be fickle beasts; they are often open to interpretation to suit an agenda. But with fake news high on the agenda, organisations need to be confident of their purpose and position on issues within their market more than ever.

Final note…

According to Time.com, the average person looks at his/her phone 46 times every day (up from 33 looks per day in 2014) with an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes per day being spent on social networks and messaging. It’s a scary fact, but it’s also an opportunity for brands to communicate directly with their audiences.

In the swipe-right age of digital overload in which attention is increasingly scarce and savvy consumers are opting out of ads and filtering the content clutter, brands must invest in rich targeted content with real value – if they want to cut through. Any old content just won’t do.

For more information on how we can help your brand cut through the noise – please contact gary.hebblethwaite@hroc.co.uk